Christmas on a tight budget....

Discussion in 'Budget Board' started by smilie, Oct 24, 2018.

  1. smilie

    smilie I've been unwonked!

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    I need frugal ideas! This year Christmas will be very small, the family knows that. But I still want it to be a special Christmas....

    Any ideas on how to make Christmas special on a small budget?
     
  2. TwoMisfits

    TwoMisfits DIS Veteran

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    Age of family/kids? Is it special for adults, teens, or little kids (or all of the above)?
     
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  4. firefly_ris

    firefly_ris DIS Veteran

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    I don't have a specific idea, but I've been looking for gift ideas like home-made things on Pinterest... I've been searching for things like "frugal christmas gifts" or "home made christmas gifts" and saving some for ideas.

    I also like giving and receiving experiences over 'stuff' -- like tickets to the aquarium, zoo, some local event, or some other thing that you'd like to do with the giftee.
     
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  5. smilie

    smilie I've been unwonked!

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    It's me, my BF, 20 year old stepdaughter, 10 year old daughter...
     
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  6. Deffenm

    Deffenm DIS Veteran

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    I am not sure how old the kids are so that might be helpful to know. We are going small as well this year due to potential job loss after the holidays. My kids are older so they understand but I still want it to be special. We have a grocery store that has a free item every Friday. I have been saving all of the items that my kids would like to fill their stockings. I have gum, candy, beef jerky. There are still 9 Friday's left so if you have a store(s) that participate that helps. I wrap everything in their stockings so it takes them longer to get thru them. I plan to pick up a puzzle, a movie, and maybe a new board game as family gifts that we could do together on Christmas. I have 3 kids so I figured they could each unwrap one of these items to make it look like more. I also buy them a new ornament every year that aligns to something that they accomplished/experienced. I can usually find them for less than $10. Not a major gift but it adds to their collection of ornaments that they get to take with them when they move out and is another gift to unwrap. My DD has a couple of books and movies on her list and I plan to go to half price books to see if I can find gently used copies. If they want an item that is costly, maybe you can break it up into small gifts like legos - wrap up each individual packet in the box separately. My kids like to give presents to each other. They all have their own money now but when they were younger I gave them a small budget and they could make or buy something for everyone on their list. It gave them a chance to get creative and really think about the person they were buying for.
     
  7. smilie

    smilie I've been unwonked!

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    This is a GREAT idea!
     
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  8. Southernmiss

    Southernmiss I am hazed everyday

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    I've always liked the idea of gifts in these categories--something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read.

    Maybe stick to inexpensive thoughtful gifts with these guidelines.
     
  9. TwoMisfits

    TwoMisfits DIS Veteran

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    Okay, 1st thing I'd do to be special is go to Midnight Mass. It's a beautiful mass, and something that is wonderful as kids age into it.

    2nd thing I'd do is find free Christmas concerts and tree lightings. They are everywhere, and should be enjoyed throughout the season. Add on taking a drive through Christmas lights - many places have free paths or very inexpensive options:).

    3rd thing I'd do is enjoy a week of Christmas movies/specials. If you are together for the holiday for a week or more, plan out evenings of cookies/cocoa and Christmas specials - find some you can make fun of, and some that warm the heart, and plan a new one, too, b/c newness brings magic:).

    4th thing, which goes with the item above, is to enjoy a designated baking day with your daughters. Have each of you pick your favorite cookie and make all 3 recipes. Only bake as many as you want then (and refrigerate the doughs to use as you want for Xmas specials:).

    5th thing is that I'd gift a special experience for after Christmas. Either a trip to the ice skating rink, a trip to the movies, a trip to the theater, a nice dinner out, etc...have something special you can all do together. This would be one of the gifts under the tree...and I would limit those to 3 each plus the family experience.
     
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  10. MomToOne

    MomToOne DIS Veteran

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    Because we travel at Christmas to see family, we always do our "Under the Tree" presents a weekend or two before Christmas. That leaves Christmas itself to be less about presents. It's still special though because of family traditions - Christmas Eve, we all gather over at my brother's house mid-afternoon and spend the day eating, drinking, talking and playing games. My brother cooks a huge dinner, which takes us awhile to get through. Afterwards, we exchange gifts, but for the adults that means a gag gift war (we draw names a month or so before). That leads to A LOT of laughs. The nieces/nephews then open their "real" gifts from the aunts/uncles - those can be big or small, depending on who it's from and their budget that year. Honestly, a $20 gift from their list is just as appreciated many times as a $200 one.

    Christmas Day itself we then spend with what I'll just call "almost relatives" because it takes too long to explain. The emphasis that day is on just enjoying each other's company and sharing a(nother) big meal.

    After years of this, once my parents had both passed away, we had a discussion on whether or not everyone wanted to continue these traditions. But everyone - kids and adults alike - all agreed that Christmas wouldn't be the same without Christmas Eve at my brother's, and Christmas Day with the almost-relatives. It isn't about the presents, it's about the tradition. My daughter probably couldn't tell you what presents she got last year without some thought, but she can definitely recall what we had for dinner Christmas Eve without any hesitation :)

    So that's all my long-winded way of saying think about activities that you can do every year, starting a tradition. Spend time together doing things like playing a game, or going Christmas Light viewing, or cooking/eating a big meal - anything that interests you really - it just needs to be done TOGETHER, with an eye towards doing it every year.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2018
  11. StacyStrong

    StacyStrong DIS Veteran

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    Do you have a nearby Zoo? Our zoo does something called Zoo Lights. It's an after hours event with Christmas lights, hot chocolate, ice Carver's, etc. Its a nice (free) evening (unless you buy food or something) Maybe there's something like that around you?
     
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  12. StacyStrong

    StacyStrong DIS Veteran

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    Our libraries also allow you to "rent" tickets to museums. One of our museums has Christmas trees from around the world.

    I don't know if you live in or near a major city but I would look into free holiday events like this around you.

    Ice skating, parades, tree lightings, etc.

    You could also do some sort of paint night as a family with tickets bought on Groupon - do a holiday themed class.

    As for gifts, a white elephant could be fun with your group or even challenge everyone to make a gift.

    Do a night of gingerbread houses and cookie decorating.
     
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  13. kymom99

    kymom99 DIS Veteran

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    Being a step parent myself, I'm wondering if your kids have to go to the other side of the family during the holidays. If they do, and it's hard to get together on Christmas, I would definitely plan an outing for all 4 of you before or after the holidays.

    Since they are both girls, you could do a gift basket for each. I do this for my step daughters and their families every year. You could do bath bombs, cozy socks, lotions, little purses, candy, popcorn, etc. Your younger daughter may want boxes to open so you could buy a couple "toy" type things, but I bet the 20 year old would like the personalized basket. Add some small gift cards and call it a day.
     
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  14. grumpy28

    grumpy28 DIS Veteran

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    If you are a member of Swagbucks, Mypoints, Bing, Fetch, ect..., really put in some overtime for some "free" GCs. If your not, join now and get started! Easy way to make some "free" money, that you can use on gifts or give as gifts.
     
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  15. bababear_50

    bababear_50 DIS Veteran

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    check out some homemade gifts

    Homemade sugar scrub
    https://wellnessmama.com/3628/sugar-scrub/
    add a pouf and a few dollar store items to a basket.

    Manicure in a jar
    https://www.google.ca/search?q=mani...s6DeAhXBl-AKHe8VAuQQ_AUIDigB&biw=1745&bih=853

    Movie Popcorn basket
    https://www.google.ca/search?q=fami...s6DeAhWCT98KHQvHBLAQ_AUIDigB&biw=1745&bih=853

    repurpose some bottles

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    My favorite
    25 christmas gifts for 5 dollars each
    https://crazylittleprojects.com/25-christmas-gift-ideas-for-under/


    Sewing kit in a jar
    I made this for my Granddaughter and she loved it.
    https://www.google.ca/search?q=sewi...t6DeAhVok-AKHX83B_QQ_AUIDigB&biw=1745&bih=853
    [​IMG]

    Hair stuff in a jar
    https://www.google.ca/search?q=hair...u6DeAhWoq1kKHVZQDMUQ_AUIDigB&biw=1745&bih=853

    [​IMG]

    Candy Cane Bath Salts
    https://thepeacefulmom.com/2010/12/16/stress-free-christmas-peppermint-bath-salts-gift/
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    One of our traditions--seriously easier than traditional gingerbread houses....
    Rice Krispies christmas gingerbread house or Village
    https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/kelloggs-rice-krispies-treats-holiday-house
    [​IMG]

    Make a ticket to ride the Polar Express
    (take hot chocolate and cookies,popcorn and go for a drive in the community to see all the Christmas Lights).OR Pickup Hot chocolate at the local Donut shop.

    Just add family name or kids names[​IMG]
    free printable tickets here

    https://www.thisgrandmaisfun.com/create-magical-polar-express-train-ride-5-simple-steps/



    Hugs Mel
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2018
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  16. tzolkin

    tzolkin DIS Veteran

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    All of these are wonderful ideas. All of my memories from childhood Christmases are about the traditions and the “feeling”. I did not enjoy gifts (still don’t).

    Getting into the spirit of it will make it more special. Ex. If you go out to see Christmas lights, make hot cocoa and snacks to enjoy in the car.

    My family makes a day of decorating the house— with Christmas music playing and smells going.

    Even things that are not “Christmas-y”, but would be a special treat for your family. We do a movie marathon of either Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter every year. We buy a ton of candy at the dollar store and have popcorn going on the stove.

    Several years ago we instituted a “day out” as a main gift. Each kid gets their own day out over the break where they choose something to do and where they want to eat. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive. It’s about the quality time and that they get to choose something they enjoy rather than catering to everyone.
     
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  17. Amii

    Amii Mouseketeer

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    You can look at Groupon and see if they have any experiences that look good. They often have tickets to museums, concerts, local attractions and events, all kinds of classes, etc and they are nicely discounted. The offers change often so you can keep going back to see if they have anything.
     
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  18. Deffenm

    Deffenm DIS Veteran

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    Thank you for posting some of these links there are some great ideas here!

     
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  19. kaytieeldr

    kaytieeldr Post hoc, ergo propter hoc

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    Ooh! If you decide to do this, let me know. I get discount codes all the time, directly from PaintNite. Usually even a little cheaper than Groupon - except when Groupon has its 10/20/25% sales.
     
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  20. la79al

    la79al DIS Veteran

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    Christmas Eve, hit a Starbucks (or even the local convenience store) to get hot chocolate or coffee or whatever. Drive around and see lights. Head home for a Christmas movie. Give family games and snack fixings as a gift. Spend the day playing games and snacking. Pick up an extra cheap turkey at Thanksgiving and involve everyone in making a turkey dinner of some kind. Also start watching Groupon for cheap activities and make it into a gift card tree sort of thing. Wrap stocking stuffers or look into the saran wrap ball thing.
     
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  21. bababear_50

    bababear_50 DIS Veteran

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    Christmas Crackers are a fun Tradition to start.
    I include a note in each one of them,,or a Chinese fortune.
    Some ideas here
    https://www.google.ca/search?q=chinese+fortunes&tbm=isch&source=iu&ictx=1&fir=l-BpD-SOQtFZsM%3A%2CAXMz6Mdd9qwCaM%2C_&usg=AI4_-kSUbUbg4k_CQ1zyy3-54s4EUSacUQ&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjb5a7Y7qLeAhXhmOAKHQxhC1oQ9QEwBnoECAUQDg#imgrc=l-BpD-SOQtFZsM:

    A dollar store toy or treat,and mini candies and chocolates.

    Just save some used toilet paper rolls or Paper towel rolls.
    You will need some wrapping paper and ribbon.
    They definitely brighten a Christmas breakfast table.

    During some trying times when I was raising my sons alone the Christmas breakfast was the main feast of the day,,we even had wine glasses filled with juice and fancy napkins that my nana had made for me. My guys are now in there early 30's and Christmas Breakfast at Mom's is their first request.

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    Hugs
    Mel
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2018

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